Managing your finances can be difficult at the best of times, but if you need care because you’re living with a long-term health condition or disability, it can be even trickier.
Fortunately, there are a few ways to make the process a bit more straightforward, whilst ensuring that your money remains both safe and easily accessible for you.
We’ve put together a list of ideas that might help if you, or any of your loved ones, need care.
Make sure any income goes straight into your bank account
If you receive any regular income in the form of a cheque, you could consider getting this changed to a direct payment into your bank account instead.
This will save you the hassle of going to the bank and waiting for the cheque to clear – you’ll have the money available as soon as it’s ready. If you don’t have any option other than to be paid by cheque, then most banking apps, including those from Barclays, Lloyds, NatWest and Halifax, now allow you to scan these using your phone’s camera (provided you have a smartphone) and pay them in without having to visit a bank. This is especially useful given that many banks are closing hundreds of their branches for good. Find out more about this in our article What to do if your bank branch closes.
Set up Direct Debits or standing orders for your bills
If you haven’t already, it may be worth setting up Direct Debits or standing orders for any payments you make on a regular basis. These may include payments towards your care, for instance.
A standing order is set up between you and your bank to ensure that an exact payment is always made into another account on a specified date or dates. The bank handles these transfers, so you don’t have to do it yourself.
A Direct Debit is similar, only it authorises the organisation you are paying to collect the money from your account themselves. They will only do so for the amount and dates that you agree on, and if they want to change either of these things then they have to ask you first.
Using these methods will ensure that your monthly bills are paid on time without you having to remember to do it manually yourself.
Use online or telephone banking
If you’ve previously only banked in person then it might be worth thinking about making the switch to online banking or telephone banking. Both are highly secure and require passwords and security questions set up by you, so you can feel confident that your money is safe.
Either option allows you to easily check your savings, set up Direct Debits or standing orders, make one-time transfers and so on. This will save you a lot of trips to and from your local branch. Additionally, being able to call your bank for quick assistance with your account can be a lifesaver. You must keep online banking details and passwords safe however, and not reveal them to anyone. If you’re worried about setting up online banking, most banks will be able to talk you through how it all works and the security measures they have in place to protect you.
Additional support from your bank
Banks are required to make their information and services as accessible as possible for customers who live with a disability. If you have a condition that makes banking difficult, you can request support such as:
- Bank statements in larger print, braille or audio format
- Wheelchair-friendly counters in branches
- Counters fitted with hearing loops if you use a hearing aid
- Special cards for customers who are unable to memorise a personal identification number (PIN)
- Wheelchair-friendly cashpoints with text-to-speech options
Your bank’s website may have a section detailing the exact accessibility options they offer.
Learn about potential scams
Sadly, scams are all too common nowadays, and with the convenience of digitised and telephone banking comes a range of ways that scammers can attempt to obtain information from you to access your account. Being cautious and brushing up on the most common techniques scammers use could potentially save you thousands of pounds.
For example, one of the most common methods scammers use is texts that are designed to sound important or that require you to take urgent action. If you receive a suspicious text about a package you didn’t order, activity on your bank account that you don’t remember doing, or something similar, don’t panic or immediately click the link they send you.
Check the website of the company that the text claims to be from or even just Google the exact message they sent you – if it’s a scam, there’s a good chance that the official website will have a section flagging it up. Keeping an eye out for simple typos and spelling errors is another easy way to spot a scam text.
You can read more about the different types of scams in our article Types of scam and how to avoid them.
Set up a lasting power of attorney
Setting up a lasting power of attorney, or LPA, is a very wise precaution to take, especially if you have a health condition that is likely to deteriorate over time. In simple terms, setting this up allows you to pass control of your affairs to a chosen person – such as a spouse, child, family member or trusted close friend – in the event that you become seriously ill or are involved in an accident that damages your mental faculties and you’re no longer able to manage your affairs yourself.
In England and Wales there are two separate types of LPA: a Property and Financial Affairs LPA and a Health and Welfare LPA. The first one allows the person you choose – your “attorney” – to make decisions on your behalf regarding your money, bank accounts, investments, property and so on. The second allows them to make decisions about your health, including what type of treatment you receive and potentially decisions about end-of-life care.
These are two separate documents, and you can choose to have either or both. In England and Wales, the two LPAs have replaced the single Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA). However, EPAs that were made and signed before 1 October 2007 can still be used.
In Scotland these types of contract are respectively referred to as “Continuing Power of Attorney” and a “Welfare Power of Attorney”. In Northern Ireland there is just one type of LPA known as an “Enduring Power of Attorney”, and it only covers financial affairs, not healthcare.
You can read more about LPAs and how to arrange one in our article How to set up a lasting power of attorney.
Write a will
No-one likes to think about dying, but if you haven’t done so yet, getting your will written will probably give you some peace of mind and help reduce potential stress for your loved ones when you pass away.
A will documents what you want to happen to your assets and possessions after you die. It can also specify crucial things, such as who would be the legal guardians of your children, grandchildren or any other dependents.
You can read more in our article The importance of writing a will.
Which? provide an easy and affordable way to write your will and ensure the people you care about are looked after when you’re gone.
They’ve done everything they can to make the process as straightforward as possible, including printing and delivery to your door. You can even get your will reviewed by their specialists to make sure it’s completed correctly.
Prices start at £99.
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